Reducing the number of Indigenous children in care
The Government of Canada has co-developed, with Indigenous peoples, new legislation to reduce the number of Indigenous children and youth in care and improve child and family services.
The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families:
- affirms the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services
- establishes national principles such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality
- contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- represents a historic opportunity to break from the past and focus on the safety and well-being of Indigenous children and youth
- is a concrete step towards reconciliation
Indigenous children in foster care
In Canada, 52.2% of children in foster care are Indigenous, but account for only 7.7% of the child population according to Census 2016. This means 14,970 out of 28,665 foster children in private homes under the age of 15 are Indigenous.
Results from the 2011 National Household Survey also show that 38% of Indigenous children in Canada live in poverty, compared to 7% for non-Indigenous children.
Co-developed federal legislation on Indigenous child and family services introduced
On June 21, 2019, the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families became an official law.
On November 30, 2018, the Minister of Indigenous Services, together with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed and Métis National Council President Clément Chartier, announced that the Government of Canada would move forward with co-developed legislation. The legislation was introduced on February 28, 2019.
During the summer and fall of 2018, the Government of Canada engaged with national, regional and community organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis as well as Treaty Nations, self-governing First Nations, provinces and territories, experts and people with lived experience, including Elders, youth and women. 65 engagement sessions were held across the country, with nearly 2,000 participants. These sessions were part of the co-development of legislation that sets the stage for comprehensive reform of Indigenous child and family services.
Toward legislation: timeline
Progress on 6 points of action
In January 2018, the Government of Canada committed to 6 points of action to address the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care in Canada.
Continuing the work to fully implement all orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and reforming child and family services including moving to a flexible funding model
Shifting the programming focus to prevention and early intervention
Supporting communities to exercise jurisdiction and explore the potential for co-developed federal child and family services legislation
Accelerating the work of trilateral and technical tables that are in place across the country
Supporting Inuit and Métis Nation leadership to advance culturally-appropriate reform
Developing a data and reporting strategy with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners
Emergency meeting on child and family services
On January 25 and 26, 2018, Indigenous Services Canada hosted a two-day emergency meeting with national and regional Indigenous leaders, as well as federal, provincial and territorial governments, youth and Elders, to discuss the key causes of the high rates of Indigenous children in care and how to work together towards systemic reform of child and family services.
- Indigenous Services Canada key priority: Children and families together
- First Nation Child and Family Services Program
- Improving child and family services in First Nations communities: Engagement
- Delivering on Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action: Child welfare
- First Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework